In an article I wrote earlier this year, I exhorted everyone to say NO to some good activities in order to make time to say YES to more intentional spiritual investment and relationship-building.
Listed below are five relationship-building questions that I put together and gave to each of my three oldest children age 13-16 right after Christmas. I gave them a week to consider the questions and then I took each one over to Panera to discuss their answers over a cup of Dark Roast. These conversations were satisfying and insightful for each of us.
I want to share these questions with you not as a model but as a super simple example. My hope is that this will get your own juices flowing as to how you might do something similar.
1. What is a spiritual goal that you would like to set for yourself this year?
2. What is a life goal that you would like to pursue this year?
3. What is an idol in your life that you would like to have greater victory over?
4. How can Mom and I pray for you?
5. What is something I can do better as a father?
This last question is one I ask regularly of my wife and my children. I love my family and there are many things I know I can do better. Of particular concern to me is correcting the things that I do wrong that might exasperate my children and that I might also be unaware.
Ephesians 6:4 warns fathers not to exasperate their children. The best way to know if we’re doing that is to humble ourselves and just ask. I am grateful that my kids have been truthful and gracious in answering this question when I’ve asked it. Over time, areas have been identified that I have overcome or am still working on. What a blessing it is for me to be able to change rather than to blindly continue on and risk the growth of bitterness toward me and God.
Increasingly, I view my older children as spiritual brothers and sisters who along with many others, I depend upon to speak the truth to me. While I still maintain a proper father-role, asking them this question (and the previous ones) has deepened our relationship in a unique way and is preparing them for more meaningful participation in church community.